Boccieri Applauds USDA Emergency Grant To Sebring
Federal investment will help Ohio village recover from lead contamination crisis

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today applauded the work of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in helping the Village of Sebring, Ohio secure a $404,885 emergency grant to tackle its lead contamination problem. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided the grant to the village to help offset the cost of new lead-prevention water system equipment and bottled water deliveries.

“This grant will help the Village of Sebring recover some of the extraordinary costs of this public health emergency, and I thank Sen. Brown for his advocacy work,” said Rep. Boccieri. “However, I believe there is still much work to be done. The state legislature needs to update public notification procedures with better coordination between local and state governments, and Congress needs to approve a long-term investment strategy to help America rebuild our crumbling water systems.”

Recent estimates put the total cost of Sebring’s response to the recent water crisis at over $70,000, a significant setback for the small village. The federal investment from USDA will cover both past expenses and future preventive measures.

Rep. Boccieri has been outspoken in his concern about the risks that the state’s aging water infrastructure poses to communities beyond Sebring. In February, the Poland lawmaker introduced House Bill (HB) 468, legislation to establish water testing standards for local boards of health and mandate strict public notification requirements in instances where local water is contaminated with lead.

The introduction of HB 468 follows the lead contamination crisis in the Village of Sebring that was first publicized in January of this year. Evidence obtained from the state-certified water testing vendor confirmed that the Ohio EPA had test results showing higher-than-normal levels of lead in the water as early as August of 2015, but the agency did not reach out to residents to inform them their water was poisoned until late January.

HB 468 is currently being considered in the House State Government Committee. 

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